Young puppies are undeniably adorable, however some of their behaviors are far from cute. By catching these actions early, you can discourage undesirable behaviors and encourage proper behaviors. Following are suggestions to help you curb five common unwanted behaviors.
If you have ever returned home to find your favorite pair of shoes, clothing, or your furniture torn to shreds, you understand that even small pups can inflict quite a bit of damage. For young puppies, chewing can be a form of exploration as well as a strategy to escape the discomfort of teething.
Puppies do not inherently know the difference between gnawing on their favorite chew toy and demolishing your shoes. It is your responsibility to teach your puppy what he can, and cannot, chew on through consistent training and positive reinforcement.
As a first step, make sure to “puppy proof” your home - your puppy cannot chew on items that are out of reach. Further, provide your puppy with toys specifically for chewing, and reward him for focusing on his toys. Lastly, energetic young puppies need frequent physical exercise and mental engagement. Regular walks and playtime provide an outlet for your puppy’s abundant energy.
While some breeds of puppies are naturally more active than others, almost all puppies can be classified as “high-energy”. Without a proper outlet to expend this energy, your puppy will grow bored and may resort to more destructive behaviors (like chewing) as a means of entertainment. Daily walks, games like fetch, and playtime with other puppies provide opportunities for your puppy to expend his energy.
If you observe young puppies at play, you’ll likely see them nip at one another. This play biting helps your puppy learn how to regulate the force of his bite - if he bites down too hard his playmate will yelp in pain, sending a signal to your puppy that he will need to lighten up in the future.
You can use this natural playtime tendency to your advantage by letting out a high-pitched yelp when your puppy bites you too forcefully. Your response will momentarily startle your puppy and cause him to stop biting. Reward and praise gentle play, and discourage aggressive play.
For your puppy, even a few short hours of separation can feel like an eternity. When you return home from work your puppy may jump all over you because he simply cannot contain his excitement. While a jumping puppy is pretty adorable, it is important that you discourage this behavior early on. (To understand why, simply picture your fully-grown dog uncontrollably jumping up to meet new guests).
Paying attention to jumping can encourage the behavior. Instead ignore your puppy when he initially jumps up to greet you. Once your puppy calms down you can praise him and bathe him in the affection he craves.
You may be tempted to pay extra attention to your puppy when you hear him whining. However, much like jumping, by responding to your puppy’s whining you will further encourage the behavior. Your puppy will quickly learn that whining is an acceptable form of communication. While it may be frustrating, you should ignore whining and only responding to your puppy when he quiets down.
It is important to mention that whining can also be a sign of distress. Make sure that your puppy is not whining out of hunger, thirst, pain, or a need for a potty break.